Archive for Thursday, March 12, 2009

Class creates more than costumes

March 12, 2009

Mary Etta Copeland thinks community service is important. And the De Soto High School choral director is making sure her students feel the same way.

Copeland’s costume design class was between shows and needed a project, so she came up with an idea to engage the five students in her class.

After renewing an acquaintance at her 50th high school reunion, Copeland discovered the perfect way for her students to help others.

Copeland learned of a friend’s son and daughter-in-law visiting Uganda. Eventually the couple returned to Uganda to work in an orphanage. After talking to her friends Copeland learned of the need for blankets and handkerchiefs for children in the orphanage, Good Shepherd’s Fold.

“One thing led to another,” she said. “I talked with them and then read a story in Woman’s World Magazine about these beautiful beads the women in Uganda make.”

Copeland was touched by the story and realized it would be a perfect project for the high school’s Madrigals. She ordered beads from Uganda. The Madrigals used the beads to make bracelets. The bracelets were sold for $5 in October and the $300 in proceeds was sent to Uganda.

“It was great because we learned they used the money to fund travel for their music teacher who lives in another village,” she said.

The costume design class, in its second year, creates costumes for the school’s musicals and plays.

“Right now we’re in-between shows, so we started this project,” she said. “I was thrilled, it fit in right with us. I figured what am I going to have the girls do between shows. I’m one to figure out how to use things.”

Over the summer, Copeland acquired a large inventory of fabric from a friend who cleaned out a family member’s home.

After emailing a contact at the orphanage, Copeland learned of the need for blankets and handkerchiefs.

“The girls have to shave their heads in order to go to school,” she said. “The handkerchiefs make them feel more like girls. There are 38 girls and 13 under the age of three. So I asked about baby blankets. It was a wonderful idea.”

The orphanage has about 100 children, while about 100 additional children from nearby villages also attend school at Good Shepherd’s Fold.

Meghan Crowley, senior, said the project made her feel good that she is doing something to help someone else.

Lizbeth Flores, freshman, said she enjoyed making the blankets because they were cute.

Blankets with teddy bears and Strawberry Shortcake adorn the chairs of Copeland’s music room.

The finished blankets and handkerchiefs will be taken to Uganda when Copeland’s friend goes to visit in May.

“I’m thrilled the girls are involved,” Copeland said. “Community service is important. Doing things for others enhances the world. And education is preparation for life and life is involvement with other people.”

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